With the last arrests within the army of opponents of AKP’s not-very-well-hidden Islamism, the power of the Fethullah Gulen movement, an Islamist, hard-line movement grows stronger, that, if wins, can destroy Ataturk legacy. And it looks it can actually win.
All shots against the military are now fair game, including those below the belt. The force behind this dramatic change is the Fethullah Gulen Movement (FGH), an ultraconservative political faction that backs the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The FGH was founded in the 1970s by Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic preacher who now lives in the United States but remains popular in Turkey. It is a conservative movement aiming to reshape secular Turkey in its own image, by securing the supremacy of Gulen’s version of religion over politics, government, education, media, business, and public and personal life.
To some, it might appear that the newfound freedom to criticize the military proves that Turkey is becoming a more liberal democracy. But the truth is that Turkey has replaced one “untouchable” organization for another, more dangerous, one. Criticizing the Gulen movement, which controls the national police and its powerful domestic intelligence branch, and which exerts increasing influence in the judiciary, has become as taboo as assailing the military once was. Today, it is those who criticize the Gulen movement who get burned.
Of course, coup allegations are serious matters that warrant immediate action. However, these allegations are part of the Ergenekon case — a convoluted investigation that so far has produced nothing in the last three years but a record-setting 5,800-page indictment, hundreds of early-morning house raids, and the detention of many prominent Turks, including university presidents and prominent educators such as Kemal Guruz and Mehmet Haberal. The only quality that ties together all of those arrested is their opposition to the AKP government and the Gulen movement. Zekeriya Oz, the chief prosecutor leading the Ergenekon case, and Ramazan Akyurek, the head of the police’s domestic intelligence branch, as well as other powerful people in the police, are thought by some to be Gulen sympathizers.
Although some of the people interrogated and arrested might have been involved in criminal wrongdoing, most appear to be innocent. Take, for instance, Turkan Saylan, a 73-year-old grandmother who was undergoing chemotherapy. Saylan ran an NGO providing liberal arts education scholarships to poor girls in eastern Turkey, an area where Gulen’s network runs many competing organizations. She was interrogated by the Turkish police for allegedly plotting a coup from her death bed, and passed away only four weeks later.
Related: Crisis in Turkey | Catholic Exchange. Demonstrators in support of arrests: